Sarah McCarten


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When They Said I Don’t Know Jesus – A guest post at Alise… Write

My mother saw him in town; he was giving out tracts about Jesus. She saw him quite frequently, since she did her banking for work on Wednesday lunchtime and he’d been giving out tracts in town at that time for longer than we’d known him. As usual they exchanged pleasantries and when he asked about my sister and me, my mother told him I was to study theology that autumn. He choked, on air, like literally couldn’t stop coughing at the fact that I was to study the bible. When she told him that it was to be at the London School of Theology, a bible college, he asked her if I’d had some kind of a conversion experience. Read more… Continue reading


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Thirty things…

My lovely friends;

I wonder if I can ask you something?

In a few short weeks I’ll turn thirty and I’d love to do something different on my blog to mark the occasion.

For the thirty days following my birthday I’ll be hosting a series called Things Things…  I’d love you to participate. I would like to post your Thirty Things… Some ideas are below.

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Thirty things I love about the church.

Thirty things I wish I knew about marriage.

Thirty things that annoy me about living in London.

Thirty things I love to hate.

Thirty things that have changed my life.

Thirty things I love in the bible.

Thirty things that make me glad I’m single.

Thirty things I’ve learned from my best friend.

You can simply submit a list or a sentence or two about each thing. I did a similar singular post at my last birthday, which you can read here, but I’m hoping to make it a bit bigger for this one.

If you’d like to help please get in touch with the thirty things you’d like to write about; please feel free to deviate from the list, I’d like as wide a variety of possible. I’m only taking one post per subject as well, so if you’re keen to write something specific do let me know as soon as you can.

Once I hear from you I’ll schedule your post and let you know the date I’ll need your post by. If you have any questions please give me a shout, my email is sarahmccarten@gmail.com, or use this contact page. You are by no means expected to be a blogger to contribute to this :).

I’ll kick us off on May 16th with thirty things I love about my friends.

Grace and peace to you

Sarah


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When I tell you that I’m scared of failing.

playing_playstation_flickr__cc__s-revenge_4664950_lrg‘I can’t believe he’s got no ambition, he doesn’t want to do anything with his life, he just wants to stay home and play on his PlayStation all day.’ My friend explained how her son had no desire to work towards his A Levels. She’d pushed him got him through his GCSEs, kicking and screaming. He’d passed, mostly, but he’d not done brilliantly. She told me that she hadn’t thought that things could get worse, she said she’d thought it wasn’t possible for him to try less, but she’d seen a whole differently level of complacency.  She couldn’t believe how content he was in underachieving.

I listened to my friend and I offered her some advice, I told her that I thought her son was scared of failing and scared of being out of control. I explained to her that if he didn’t try he didn’t fail; he was in control of his future. It might not be a bright future, but it was a future he could take deliberate steps towards. Even if those steps were sitting at his games console.

My friend thanked me for my advice; she said she’d never thought of it that way. She asked me if I’d studied psychology, I told her that I hadn’t, she called me insightful.  I didn’t tell her it was because I saw myself all over that image of her son.

I could tell you about many times I’ve not tried and not failed; but I’m not going to do that. Mostly because it would be embarrassing, but partly because it’s self-indulgent.

What I will tell you about is something I’m trying; something I might fail, but I’m going to give it a shot.

I’m going to try being a writer.

I hear you saying; ‘Sarah, you have a blog, what are you talking about’. What I’m saying to you is that I’m taking it seriously now, outside of people and work and church this is going to be my priority. That means, writing when I don’t feel like it, writing about the tough stuff, writing consistently, and trying to get my writing in other places than my blog.625488_10152709706935004_895663287_n

I tell you this because I want you to keep me accountable, please, because if you know me, you know what I’m like.

Hear me right, this is not an ‘I’m putting all my eggs in one basket’, like if my blog fails I fail. I’m not going to give up my job and move into my parents loft so I can be a writer. I’m telling you I’m going to try and I might fail.

As part of this, I’m taking Elora Ramirez eCourse Story101.

I tweet here.


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When I tell what I believed about church.

churchSome time during 2006 I wrote this and then I said it at a talk I gave at the home group I was part of:

‘I don’t want to be part of a church that is renowned for building good venues, or for doing good services. I don’t want the church of my generation to be remembered for the great music we have produced or the talented worship leaders we’ve have.

I don’t want to be part of a church where everyone is lovely and I don’t want to be part of a church where I’m friends with everyone.

The church I want to be part of is in love with and in awe of Jesus.  Where the most important part of everything we do together is whether or not Jesus shows up. A church that is totally sold out for Him, where nothing else matters.  A church that will do anything to connect with their God, even if that means late nights and early mornings everyday, we will do what it takes.  Because the truth is if we seek His Kingdom first, everything else will fall into place.

If we are the church and we do it right, this will become so attractive to people who don’t yet belong to us, that they will want to come in and we will take them in, us connecting with each other and with our God will be our outreach and our mission.

I want to be part of a church that’s raw and that’s real.  A church that is searching for meaning.

I want to be part of real support network where we can call upon each other whenever and wherever we need to.  It’s safe to be honest and vulnerable.  It’s not meant to be fun all the time, but it’s not meant to be hard all the time either. We will see and know the joy that surpasses all understanding, daily.

The church is accountable, and responsible for each other.

The Church I want to be part of is a place where there is an opportunity for collective worship, through song and by other means.

The church I want to be a part of understands that people are different, and that one congregation doesn’t fit all but ultimately we all fit together.

The community in which the church is, is not necessarily the place where they live but the group of people whom they are a part of, that could be the people who they work with or their social group or their family’s, but these are the people who they reach out to.

I want to be part of a church that lives in the reality of the cross.

I want to believe that there is a place for everyone in the church and that if I’m in my right place that when I’m not there I’ll be missed, not in an arrogant way but just in a where’s Sarah, it’s not the same without her, no one can fulfil my role the way I do.  Everyone’s contribution is valid and valuable.  The church aught to be a place where people are changed and where transformations occur – we shouldn’t be the same person who arrived.

We need to make disciples of each other and make ourselves vulnerable enough for others to make disciples of us.

I read it again and I cried a little.

During the time I wrote this the house group I was a part of was working out whether or not to go it alone as a house church. Ultimately, we decided we’d be better off on our own. I left the group about 18 months after it’s formation moving London to study theology and about a year after that the group stopped meeting altogether. I tell you this to give you some of my back-story, not because I think our church failed, but because I think it was brilliant, it was just what a lot of needed for that time.

The reason that I cried was because I was such and idealist young person. I wasn’t satisfied with where I was, for sure, but I had aspirations about where I wanted to be. So often these days I’m cynical but I produce no alternative. I say that things are bad, but that’s just how things are.

I’m not saying that I was right in all the things I wrote, but at least I had purpose; If I wrote it now I’d certainly be more articulate and my theology better.

Someone once said that we should be the change we want to see. I’ve not been that I’ve been that and for that I am sorry.

Thanks so much for reading, it really does mean the world to me, I tweet here, you should take a look I’m pretty entertaining.

 


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When I tell you that I didn’t get out of my car.

IMG_0082I saw her in the rear-view-mirror of my car. I was in a service station about half way between my parents’ home and my home, about a hundred miles from each. I was surprised to see her as she was so far from home. I thought about getting out of the car and saying hello, but I was in a rush and she looked like she was talking to her friend.

I drove out of the service station I felt gutted that I hadn’t made the effort and got out of my car, I could turn back but I was on the motorway and it would have added at least 30 miles and a half an hour to my journey. Besides, I couldn’t even be sure she’d be there on my return. I had plenty of stuff to do when I got back to London and I was sure I’d see her at some or other church thing some or other time.

It played on my mind the rest of the journey. I’d spent so much time with this lady in my teenage years, she’d made such an effort with me, she’d really helped me realise my potential, she was one of the first grown ups to not treat me as though I was weird and I as though I just needed to conform to some evangelical ideology of faith, she’d let me do my thinking for myself. I’d been too lazy to get out of the car and say hello to her.

I visited my parents a couple of months after that and they told me that this lady was sick, she had cancer, but she probably wasn’t going to die, it was curable. I knew that 1 in 3 people in the UK got cancer each year. I didn’t know, and still don’t really, how many people die from it. I went on about my day like nothing had changed, I trusted that the doctors knew what they were talking about, and in my experience, if they’d said someone might die, there was a chance they’d live, if they’d said they’d live, they had. If I’m honest I thought that this lady would probably end up cancer free and she’d have a good Jesus story to tell.

Since no one had mentioned it I’d forgotten that she was I’ll so when I was visiting my parents recently and my mum got a text message it wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind. My mum told me that this lady had died.

Actually died, like I’d never see her again, I’d missed my chance; this wouldn’t be a happy Jesus story. It was just crap.

I was angry with the colleague of my mother’s who had text her to let her know. I was angry with myself also, firstly because I’d not gotten out of the car those few months ago but mostly because I had never told her how much her support had meant to me during my formative years.

Now I’ll never get the chance.


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When I tell you why I’m writing again.

imageI feel like I’m a fraud.

I feel like that partly because I’m not a writer and partly because I’m not prepared to share all of myself on the internet.

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to call myself a writer. I’m convinced that it’ll never be my profession, but I am convinced that it’s something I should be doing and that it is a part of my calling.

The thing is, that has never bothered me before, I don’t mind saying ‘I write’ or ‘I have a blog’ the writer label is something I’ve never really aspired to.

I’ve been reading lots of wonderful blogs over the past few months and I see people sharing honestly and frankly and it is beautiful. It’s not because I can’t write like that, it’s not because I don’t have those stories. It’s because it’s not me. That’s not my way. I’ve come to realise that is alright.

People share things in their blogs that I don’t even talk to my best friend about. That’s me, I’m not a big ‘sharer’, and in general, I’m happy with that. But then I feel guilty, I feel like a phoney because I’m not revealing a secret about myself every other week on my blog.

So I stopped writing.

There’s been this massive gaping hole in my blog.

I received some advice from a couple of wonderful friends recently; that when it comes down to it if you’re being yourself you’re not being disingenuous.

So that’s it. I’m back! My writing might not be like everyone else, but it’s me, and that’s the best that I’ve got for you.

Would you excuse me if my voice is a little croaky over the next while, I’m working on using it again.

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I’m including this post in Kirsten Oliphant’s Writerly Blog Hop, if you’d like to you can check it out here. I tweet here, do follow me. Thanks so much for reading, it really does mean a lot to me.


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Jealousy

A couple of months ago I put out a request for things that you guys might like to see me write about. I got a solitary request, which was from my lovely friend Max. So thanks for that guys!

Max asked me to write about the person that I am most jealous of in the world. Christians aren’t supposed to get jealous are they?  So I thought it quite an odd question, and apart from Max’s girlfriend, there aren’t many people who I’m envious of really.

I try to be a the-glass-is-half-full kind of a girl. So seriously choosing a person of whom I’m jealous is a hard one. I might look at a girl and think; ‘you’re married and happy, I’m jealous of you,’ but then I look at her husband and think ‘actually I got the better deal.’ So, I’ve decided to write about the kind of life traits that I am jealous of. I know that it’s not exactly what Max requested, but I’m using [a little] artistic licence.

People who get to write for a living.
Please don’t get me wrong; I love my job. I’m so grateful for the fun I get to have at work and the flexibility my job affords me. However, I am jealous of those people who get to spend their whole time writing and cultivating their craft. More than that, I’m jealous that they have enough inspiration and motivation to fill their time. I’m jealous that they don’t get bored.

People who know what they’re doing with their lives.
My dad has never had another job. He started working for the company he works for when he was 16 years old, this year he will be 55, that’s a long time. That’s longer than I’ve been alive. He did of course start at the bottom and work his way up, but essentially his career has been the same. I think that I see him sometimes and think I want that, he knows exactly what he’s doing, whereas I do not. I can see about 3 strides ahead of me, he sees to retirement, and he has done since I was a little girl.

So when I see my peer with a plan, I do get a little envious. I think I wish I knew with certainty what I want to be when I grow up. For me the uncertainty comes with this desire I have not to fail. If I say, for example, that I want to be a writer when I grow up, then if I do not do that I have failed. But if I say, I want to be a nanny for now; I’m pretty successful at that.

Married people.
I have a lot of friends who are married. While I look at most of their spouses and think I wouldn’t want to wake up with you every morning. There is something that I’m envious, and that’s the fact that they’re done with the dating game. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy going on dates, but there’s something about the security of their marriages that I feel like I’d like to have. Not to mention that the family politics of weddings would be done with.

So, if you’re married and you write for a living and you know what you want to be when you grow up; watch your back! I’m after your life.

Thanks so much for reading you guys! It really does mean the world to me!